CEO fires 900 employees over Zoom call: ‘Your employment is terminated, effective immediately’

·3-min read
Better.com CEO Vishal Garg laid off over 900 employees just ahead of holiday season (Screengrab/Vimeo/Better.com)

The chief executive of a US-based digital mortgage lending company fired 900 people on a Zoom call ahead of the holiday season, it has been reported.

About 15 per cent of the company’s employees in the US and India were abruptly laid off as part of the cost-cutting exercise, Vishal Garg, the head of Better.com, can be heard saying in the video call that reportedly took place last week. A recording of the call, which has not been verified, was widely shared on YouTube.

“If you’re on this call, you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off. Your employment here is terminated, effective immediately,” Mr Garg can be heard telling the employees.

He began the announcement by saying the market had changed and the company had to move with it in order to survive.

“This isn’t news you are going to want to hear. But ultimately, it was my decision and I wanted you to hear it from me. It’s been a really, really challenging decision to make. This is the second time in my career I’m doing this and I do not, do not want to do this. The last time I did it, I cried. This time I hope to be stronger,” Mr Garg said.

“We are laying off about 15 per cent of the company,” he added.

He cited market efficiency, productivity and performance as the reason for the mass layoffs.

The chief executive said all the US-based employees laid off would get four weeks of severance, a month of full benefits and two months of coverup for which the company would pay the premium.

Members of the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion recruiting team were among those who were fired, reported CNN Business.

A number of clips of the video call are being shared on social media, and in one of them an unseen viewer — seemingly an employee of the company — can be heard expressing their shock at the announcement.

“This is not real. Oh my god, I can’t believe this. This is not real. Oh no, this can’t be happening,” the person can be heard saying over the clip.

“Having to conduct layoffs is gut-wrenching, especially this time of year,” the company’s chief financial officer Kevin Ryan said in a statement to CNN.

“However a fortress balance sheet and a reduced and focused workforce together set us up to play offence going into a radically evolving homeownership market,” Mr Ryan added.

Better.com, founded in 2016, recently received $750m (£566m) in investments and is set to go public. The company is preparing to have about $1 billion (£754m) on its balance sheet, CNN reported.

Mr Garg has reportedly been involved in controversy prior to last week’s incident.

In a mail obtained by Forbes magazine in 2020, he wrote to staff: “You are TOO DAMN SLOW. You are a bunch of DUMB DOLPHINS... SO STOP IT. STOP IT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW. YOU ARE EMBARRASSING ME (sic)”.

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